+ - X . x of heartaches and broken dreams x . X - +
              by Stepherz and Victory Thru Tears

Summary: Ultimately, every story is about love. This is a story about nostalgia, hope, love, hate, living, dying, and everything in between. When past and present collide, the outcome upsets the lives of a young man and woman. Fate seems to drive the two together, though the circumstances are anything but allowing. A young prostitute with a dream and inspiration unlike any other, puts her trust in a wealthy lawyer, who in return risks it all for her. Dreams are re-born, and lives are re-lived, and as follows the old saying, 'all good things must come to an end'.

Rating: R, for adult themes and language.

Disclaimer: Possible mild smut. Not a lot - this story has a plot, and will stick as close as possible to it. However, sex is a major theme of the story, and so it will be discussed, maybe even described. It is by no means a porn story, but it will be in there. Consider this story as close to NC-17 as possible. You have been warned!

Dedication: To Star, for giving Victory her inspiration to write at all, back. To all the other writers who have helped us both along the way. To Susanne, for loving and encouraging Maya and Koon's relationship. To Sonny, for inspiring us IMMENSELY.

And, to each other...without you, there would be no us.

Small Note: This is the first story that Maya and Koon have been in together that has been posted. They've been written together for months, and months, in many different environments. But this is the first one that we have felt that they could truly shine in...and so, it is being posted. Feedback is generally welcomed. Titles may be in random different languages...yep. Read on, fair wanderer.

Chapter One: Vino Barato Del Anguish

Maya's POV

I looked out my window, at the bleak streets of New York. They were damp, and the blossoming umbrellas stared up at me from below.

I sighed softly, setting down my nail file and staring down at it, then looking around the crammed apartment of a kittyporn-esque prostitute. Sure, I wasn't underage, but I sure looked like I was, and that turned guys on full-scale...I knew that for a fact.

Life hadn't always been like this. I hadn't always had to sell myself for cold cash. But dreams are crushed by the brutal realities that make up "life". I wanted to be a dancer. I wanted to dance on Broadway. I wanted everyone to look at me, with awe and faint lust in their crystal eyes.

All I'd ever wanted to do... to make people smile, to bring joy through my art. But now all I brought was an empty sense of guilt to those adulterers, and a pricey thrill to the perverse.

No, life hadn't always been this way. It used to be bright, and colorful. I used to be young, naive...I used to be innocent, virginal, with dreams just waiting to be made...just waiting for some one to boost them into flight. But once truth hit my childish hopes, my wings were clipped, and nothing could make me soar again.

It was always said, that the choices you made when you were young, led to your regrets when you were older. I had made excellent choices when I was in high school...I'd stayed away from drugs, sex, alcohol, and all the things that ruined your teenage life. I'd released my passions through dancing, my art. I wasn't just good, either...I was the best. I put my head, my heart, my soul...everything...into it. There was no Maya without the dancer.

So I'd thought it was a good choice to give up college...and go to the city, to New York, instead. Naive small town Midwestern girl, right? Well, I thought I could get past the stereotype...I thought I could show them that I was good, and that I would make it.

Yeah. I'd made it. Landed myself right in the thick of New York's hot nightlife...under the name of Maya Paradise. Yes, fucking Paradise. How much more 'cheap hooker' could you get?

I didn't even know how it had happened. I'd gone to audition after audition...been turned down over, and over again. I'd made it a few times...small, menial parts. But it wasn't enough to feed myself.

I'd met another dancer, Taylor. I'd asked her...how the hell she could afford to live in the city, with these little jobs. She responded that she didn't live on these little jobs.

One thing led to another...and here I was. I wasn't even auditioning anymore. I was just Pretty Little Paradise.

I longed for a way out...I longed for some one to take me by the hand...to take me, and lead me to a place where I could be the untouchable. A place where I could look down on everything, and point and laugh. For all the wrongs in my life, this had to be the worst. I was the "perfect performer", or so I'd been addressed. Everyone had told me, that if I had faith in myself, and I kept on pursuing my dream, that it would come to me...if I had the heart and guts to make it.

I suppose I just didn't have all the makings of a star. They say stress brings you down...they say that money is the root of all evil.

Gazing at the stacks of bills, set orderly by the thousand, I could easily beg to differ. Money wasn't evil. What evil is, is the means a person uses to attain it. What money is, is the people one crushes along the way. What real, true evil is, is the greed that money evokes.

Having sex for money was evil. Refusing to fulfill the dreams of a repetitive romance was evil. Fucking every night so I could live the rich life...that, oh yes...that was pure evil.

So I was evil. We'd come down to it. I was no longer the little girl who used to wear her little pink ballet slippers everywhere, just because she didn't want to part with them. I wasn't the shy girl in high school who used to turn down dates for fear that she might finds something she loved more than dancing. I wasn't the idealistic eighteen-year-old that had come to New York City looking for a life of glamour and stardom.

I was cynical, tired, miserable, angry, and utterly hopeless. There was no dream anymore. There was nothing for me -- nothing except more money to be made.

That thought in mind, I glanced towards the clock, which was rapidly approaching eight-thirty. I cast a rueful look towards the pack of lacy undergarments, to be worn with a slinky black cocktail dress.

I dragged myself up from the windowsill, heading towards the pile of clothes.

It was almost show time.

Koon's POV

I glanced at my watch. Nearly eight-thirty. Yes, I would have to leave the office soon...and run home to the house of misery and broken dreams that awaited me oh so often.

I'd heard it was unhealthy, to bury oneself in one's work. But one can find such solace in the documents, of another's mutilated dreams.

Casting a haughty glance at the stack of freshly printed business cards on the corner of my desk, I picked one up.

Mr. Kyle G. Capuano. The name alone sent chills down my spine. What a cursed name. The rut of the Capuano was nothing to be taken lightly. It had happened to my father, and to me, and it would soon happen to my younger brother. Damned was any who fell into such a damned family. No good would come of affiliation with a Capuano, lest ye be a hardened criminal.

That's right, ladies and gents. Tip your hats to Mr. Kyle Capuano, defender of the hopeless, god of clemency. I set the bastards free. Or at least, that's what I was paid so generously to do.

How many times a day did I put on a smile in the court room, using my puppy dog eyes to make them sound like angels, unable to make it back to heaven's gates? I used my excellent persuasive skills, my wit, my reputation...and best of all, my father's name. And you know...I'd only lost 2 cases.

I was perfect, just like every other Capuano. I had good looks, talent, intelligence...I had a high-paying, well-reputed job in one of the most elite law firms in the great city of New York. I had a woman, too. A beautiful woman, of course...one that I was soon to marry.

I glanced at the picture on my desk, with slight distaste. It was a picture from the French coast, taken a few months ago. Jennifer, clad in a small bikini, hanging on my arm, and both of us beaming at the camera.

It was just a reminder of how fake our relationship really was. She was just a name to me -- something else to add to Kyle's little resume.

Fuck, I hated that name. Kyle. It wasn't me. None of this was me.

But no time for complaining. No, of course not. No complaining, only work.

To lead a life of sorts was pure normality. What I wanted, well...it doesn't matter. What had I to want? I was leading a life so many others could only yearn to lead. Millions would sell their souls for a chance to live one day in this miserable man's shoes.

But they were oblivious to the realities that came along with adulthood. As a child, I had my dreams. Oh yes, I was made of dreams, bursting with potential. But what had I become? What had become of that charming adolescent, the one that stood at the end of the line, hope in his heart, charisma in his eyes?

He had become a cynical and tired old man. And the irony of it all, was that I should be rejoicing in the essence of all I had. I was a young man, with my whole life's plans laid before me.

And there's the thing...for once, if only once...I wanted to do something sporadic. I wanted to live on the edge, to make and mold myself the way I wanted. People dream of seeing the world. Well, the world is nothing. No, dreams don't matter. Lives are ruined, and they mean nothing. People dream of things, and they amount to nothing. For once, just once I wanted my life to amount to something. I lived in sin. It was a pit. I couldn't break free. There was nothing I could do. I wanted something stark. I wanted what I could never have, and that was just the ounce of fulfillment that happiness could offer. For a moment, a simple moment in time, I wanted to feel the joy I so longed for...the joy that each and every person had the right to. So why was my live so void of it?

All that I loathed was precisely what I was. I wanted to break from my shell. I wanted my life to be worth something. What a sin, to ask some worth. But then again, no. I lived on top of the world, and it would be a foolish move to act anything but accordingly.

Glancing at the clock again, I sighed, and slowly got up from the chair that I spent most of my day in. I slowly took the jacket from the back of my chair, pulling it around my broad shoulders. I grabbed my briefcase, and turned off the lights in my office.

I walked down the hallway of the empty firm, my footsteps echoing on the smooth floors. Everyone was gone by now...eight-thirty wasn't outstandingly late, but everyone was eager to get home to their families. For what? Most of the men at the firm were cheating on their wives with their secretaries, anyway.

I nodded to the doorman as I left the building. He gave me a small smile, of which I didn't blame him. Always good to smile at the lawyers in our building...but never too big a smile. You don't want to seem cheeky. It was just another rule of the status system in New York.

Once outside, I looked around at the bright lights around me. Making a quick decision, I hailed a taxi.

I slid in, telling the driver the address to my choice of entertainment for the night. I'd never been there before...but I'd heard some men in the office talking about it. According to them, it had an excellent selection.

I leaned back as the driver pulled back into traffic. Yes, another part of the night for Kyle Capuano. Another sin in the book, that's all.